Sunday, July 31, 2011

Review: Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking DangerouslyApproaching 30 and stuck in a dead-end job Julie Powell decides to reclaim her life by cooking every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year. In the end she finds something she didn't expect - joy and her way in the world.

When trailers for Julie & Julia the movie started to show up on TV I decided I wanted to see it. Meryl Streep is one of the best actresses out there and Amy Adams is just adorable so I figured I'd enjoy the story and them in it. Then a friend of mine told me she bought the book the movie is based on and offered to let me borrow it when she was done with it. Of course I couldn't pass that up and when it was my turn to read about Julie Powell's adventures I dove right in.
Julie's writing style is very conversational and that made it an easy and quick read. It was fun to read about a modern American woman cook things that usually don't even register on the radar of dinner possibilities and it was no less fun to see her navigate the changing landscape of her life when she became a local and later a national celebrity. So I just kept turning the pages well into the night.
Julie herself struck me as a spunky young woman, albeit a bit unhappy about her stagnant life and quite unpardonably whiny and selfish on a number of occasions. Sometimes I though to myself "Really, woman?!" but I loved the humor with which she described both her successes and her failures, and the part where she talked about the comments on her blog resonated with me, as I think it did with most if not all bloggers who read the book - it is extremely exciting to get comments from people you don't already know. I loved how her husband and friends supported her through the highs and lows of this sometimes stressful endeavor and merrily consumed the fruits of her labors. It was also a lot of fun to see how Julia Child inspired Julie to continue with the project and Julie's tribute to Julia at the end of the year made me laugh out loud. It was just too perfect.
I very much enjoyed the book in its entirety but my very favorite part of it was this quote: "Julia taught me what it takes to find your way in the world. It's not what I thought it was. I thought it was all about — I don't know, confidence or will or luck. Those are all some good things to have, no question. But there's something else, something that these things grow out of. It's joy." This book was pretty much a fun romp and had it not been for this little paragraph I wouldn't have given it another serious thought but after I read it Julie's story gained a little more heft and made me look back at it and life in general from a different angle. It made me want to go and do things "just because" because we all need more joy in our lives, don't we? Can't hurt, that's for sure.


  1. I really need to watch the movie and read the book. I've heard nothing but good things. Have you watched the movie as well? I'm interested to know how the book differs from the movie (if at all).

  2. Alyssa, the movie is pretty different in that a lot of attention is devoted to Julia Child while in the book it's all really about Julie, Julia is essentially an inspiration for the project. They're both very good fun though and I recommend them both.

  3. Thanks Olga! :) That is a fairly big difference.